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PM Imran isn’t going anywhere, has one last card, claims Punjab minister Sibtain Khan

Provincial forestry minister says Elahi will become chief minister

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf provincial minister from Punjab Sibtain Khan on Thursday claimed that Prime Minister Imran Khan was not going anywhere as he still had to show the final card in the present political situation.

“His boat has not drowned yet. It will get a double engine and the speed will be worth seeing, ” said Sibtain Khan while talking to reporters outside an accountability court in Lahore on Thursday.

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Sibtain Khan, who was elected as Member of the Provincial Assembly from Mianwali on a PTI ticket, said that Imran Khan was still there and the possibility was that the disgruntled PTI leaders could return on a moral ground to support their party during these difficult times.

“Some disgruntled PTI leaders may review their decision at the last moment, thinking that they won the election from the PTI seat and now the PTI is sinking just because of lack of support from them. So, I think, they could return at the end, ” the minister explained.

He said, “Anything can happen till the final stage.”

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Sibtain Khan, who was appearing before the court in a corruption case was of the view that there was also a possibility that Imran Khan would use his final card.

“I am not exactly aware of that card. But this is sure that he will use it at the last stage, ” he added.

The statement comes at a moment when the ruling party seems to have lost the majority in the National Assembly, as one close ally, MQM-P, joined hands with the opposition to oust Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Sibtain Khan also made another claim that all hurdles in the way of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid leader Chaudhry Pervez Elahi to be the next Punjab chief minister would be over soon.

“Chaudhry Pervez Elahi will become chief minister. We will be standing by our Chairman Imran Khan who has nominated him as the candidate for the slot of chief minister, ” said the PTI leader.

When asked that PPP co-Chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari had ruled out the chances of Pervez Elahi becoming chief minister, the PTI minister said that he had no competition with Zardari.

“But one thing was sure that Pervez Elahi would get 195 to 200 votes to become chief minister,” he added.

Talking about the corruption case against him, the PTI leader said that he was surprised about what they [NAB officials] wanted to get out of it.

“I have nothing to do with it. What exactly do they want to get out of it?” said the minister, while addressing the NAB officials. Earlier, the court sought arguments from both sides in the case and put off further proceedings till April 14.

In February, the court  turned down the acquittal plea of Sibtain Khan and six other suspects in a reference related to awarding an unlawful contract for extracting precious minerals in Chiniot.

Sibtain Khan, who was elected to the assembly from Mianwali, had resigned as minister for forest, wildlife and fisheries after the NAB officials arrested him on June 15, 2019. Later, the Lahore High Court directed his release in September 2019 after which he took oath as forest minister in January 2020.

The anti-graft body had alleged that Khan unlawfully awarded a multi-billion contract to a firm of his choice namely Earth Resource Private Limited in 2007 when he was minister for Mines and Minerals in the PML-Q government.

According to the NAB officials, the company which secured the contract had paid-up capital of Rs2.5mn only and also lacked the experience required for the project. They said the company was not even registered with Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and Khan signed the agreement whilst ignoring the laws.

The counsel for the accused, however, argued that the contract was given with the permission of the then chief minister and the cabinet while the laws were completely followed for the process of awarding the contract.

Mines and Minerals Department former secretary Imtiaz Ahmad Cheema, former chief inspector Abdul Sattar, former GM Operations Muhammad Aslam, Rao Manzar Hayat, Salman Ghani and Muhammad Shahid are the other suspects in the case.

 

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